On the heels of a sixth straight win over Miami, Florida State will return to action on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium against ACC Atlantic foe Louisville, which will provide a much better test than its record would indicate. The Cardinals (2-3, 1-1 ACC) enter the weekend below .500 on the season, but they have been the victim of several close losses, including three-point losses to Clemson and undefeated Houston.
FSU (5-0, 3-0) gashed the Miami defense last week to the tune of almost eight yards per play – led by a 22-carry, 222-yard (10 yards per rush) performance from Dalvin Cook. It was also a strong showing from quarterback Everett Golson, who completed 75 percent of his throws for 291 yards and a TD, with a pair of near misses on would-be scores to Kermit Whitfield and Auden Tate.
The Miami defense that FSU ran all over is not close to the level of this Louisville defense, though, as the Cards come in ranked No. 13 in S&P+ defense and 21st in S&P+ against the run (UM is 62nd, 99th in those categories). The U of L defense includes notable transfers like Devonte Fields (TCU), Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaq Wiggins (both formerly of Georgia) and, while perhaps being geared a bit more toward stopping the pass than the run (6.1 YPA allowed), will make things harder on Cook and the 'Noles this week than the Hurricanes did.
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Cook has been taking it easy in practice again this week, but his form against Miami indicates he will be ready to go again against the Cards, with Jonathan Vickers once again supplementing.
Defensively, FSU will be facing an extremely mobile QB in Lamar Jackson. Jackson can fly, and while he is raw as a passer he presents the most dangerous ground threat the Seminoles have seen from a signal caller this season. Florida State's strong defense combined with Jackson's lack of passing ability (4 TDs, 3 INTs) means the 'Noles could see spread looks with the freshman QB using rollouts and keepers to try and hurt them with his mobility, where he leads Louisville with 435 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Louisville's running game has not been good otherwise, as the Cards' running backs are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, according to ESPN's David Hale.
Florida State is coming off a game in which it dominated on the ground, holding Miami to 20 yards on 19 rushing attempts, and teams are clearly respecting the FSU rush defense as evidenced by a 54.6 percent pass rate on first downs by opposing offenses. The Seminoles will hope to have Terrance Smith back at linebacker to reinforce the middle of the field, but RS sophomore Ro'Derrick Hoskins provided a bit of reassurance by playing admirably in his absence against Miami.
Be sure to listen to the Nolecast, where Bud Elliott and Ingram Smith cover every angle of FSU-Louisville with in-depth analysis to have you ready to go at noon on Saturday.